William and Mary
Directory Page Title

Joan Gavaler

Professor of Dance

Office: Adair Hall 401
Email: [[jsgava]]
Phone: (757) 221-2785
Website: {{}}
Website: {{}}



Areas of Specialization

Concert choreography and performance, theatre choreography and movement direction, Alexander Technique, Contact Improvisation


Joan Gavaler has a career as both an independent performer/choreographer and as an educator.  She has received accolades for both her choreography and teaching including being named AAHPERD Distinguished Guest Artist and receiving the W&M Alumni Society Award for Teaching Excellence.  She relishes the creative process and collaborative discovery in making new work. To further that interest, she co-founded Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre with Dan Plehal. The company had a successfull premiere at Links Hall, Chicago August 29-31, 2014 and will tour to D.C., Williamsburg, Boston, and Montgomery in the Spring.

Since 1987 Joan has created over 50 original works and has been the driving force behind four professional companies.  She has collaborated with poets, composers, musicians, sculptors, actors, dancers, and physicists and been invited by 38 dance and theatre organizations to present her work in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including a two-week residency at Beijing Normal University in 2013. From 1990-1994 Gavaler Danceworks received 11 grants to develop and present her choreography.  The College of William and Mary - where she has been a Professor of Dance since 1994 - has provided 18 grants to support her creative work and six grants for curriculum development.  Students value the supportive and challenging atmosphere she creates and the thoughtful guidance she provides.  She has taught collaboratively with colleagues and has developed new courses including History of American Vernacular Dance, Contact Improvisation and Partnering Principles, Alexander Technique, and Introduction to Physical Theatre in addition to teaching dance composition, modern and ballet technique and mentoring undergraduate choreographers and theatre artists.  Her expertise has been sought for program and faculty reviews at five institutions, adjudication for three organizations, board membership in four organizations, and chairing her department at William & Mary from 2009-2014.

Current Courses

Dance Composition I and II, Alexander Technique, Physical Theatre, all levels of modern and ballet technique

Student Advising

Dance Minors, Performance Ensemble, William & Mary Theatre, Interdisciplinary Studies